In an article recently published in the European Journal of Cancer, the EORTC Pharmacology & Molecular Mechanisms Group (PAMM) discussed the use of pharmacogenetics in cancer treatment and clinical trials. The information provided by the PAMM study is extremely useful, because in today’s era of targeted therapies and personalized medicine, the individual characteristics of the patient and the tumor need to be taken into account. Pharmacogenetics can provide a bridge linking patient and tumor genetics with a rational way to prescribe efficacious treatment and lower toxicity on an individual patient basis.
Jacques Robert of the Institut Bergonie´ at the University of Bordeaux in France explains, “We see an increasing number of studies investigating anticancer drug efficacy and toxicity and common polymorphisms present in the patients’ genome. Often, however, the results of these studies do not include the background information needed to evaluate the relevance of the study regarding the treatment of patients.”
The efficacy of a particular anticancer drug can vary greatly between individual patients, and clinical oncologists need information on how pharmacogenetics can best be used to prescribe the right treatment.
Godefridus J. Peters (Frits) of the Department of Medical Oncology at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam says, “We tried to provide clinical oncologists with an overview of pharmacogenetics alongside information about potential uses of gene polymorphisms as predictive biomarkers in both routine and clinical research. At the same time, we also found it beneficial to provide molecular biologists with recommendations on how to think about writing a protocol, and later how to publish the results of pharmacogenetic studies that are appended to clinical trials or even ones with independent goals.”
The PAMM position paper provides oncologists and molecular biologists with a detailed overview of gene polymorphisms, pharmacogenetics and cancer, and publication of pharmacogenetic data.
John Bean, PhD
EORTC, Medical Science Writer